Attorney Convicted of Providing Material Support Disbarred

Attorney Convicted of Providing Material Support Disbarred

Posted By Greg McNeal On April 25, 2007 @ 10:05 am In Law Blog | 1 Comment

Lynne Stewart, who was convicted in 2005 for providing material support to terrorists [1] was disbarred Tuesday.  Stewart attempted to voluntarily resign in November 2006, but the NY Supreme Court’s appellate division denied her request. 

According to the report:  

“Stewart was convicted of one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity and providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity. She also was convicted of two counts of making false statements.”

[2] FDD Senior Fellow Andrew McCarthy has written extensively on the case and describes Stewart as a likeable person.  However, in a February 15, 2005 piece he does go on to [3] state:

Perhaps that’s why I can feel justice but no joy is seeing her brought low. The worst part, for me, is the revelation that lying to the government was at the core of her crimes. In order to get into the jailhouse, she gave her word that she needed access to the Sheikh for one purpose, viz., to provide legal assistance, and then willfully carried out a far different purpose: viz., to enable Abdel Rahman to continue influencing the barbaric Egyptian terror organization which assassinated President Anwar Sadat for making peace with Israel, sought President Hosni Mubarak’s murder, savagely slaughtered nearly 60 tourists in Luxor as an extortionate demand for the Sheikh’s release, and has sedulously busied itself toward toppling the secular government for a quarter century.

These were bold-faced, nefarious lies. To the profession of lawyering, they should be seen as lies of the most despicable kind. For Stewart later claimed that her mendacity was excusable as a part of zealously representing a client. What she did, however, formed no part of what an attorney does.

Conduct of the type Stewart was convicted of is the same type of conduct the government fears lawyers for detainees in Guantanamo will engage in.  In the Bismullah-Parhat litigation, the government [4] argues that under the post Rasul pre-DTA habeas regime:

  • Security procedures were violated by attorneys visiting Guantanamo
  • Counsel caused unrest on the base by informing detainees about terrorist attacks and other incidents
  • Counsel took a broad view of their representation of detainees, sending material which did not relate to the legality of their detention
  • Counsel misused their access to detainees through the legal mail system by informing detainees about terrorist attacks, operations in Iraq, activities of terrorist leaders, efforts in the war on terror, the Hezbollah attack on Israel, detainee biographies and abuse at Abu Ghraib
  • Such information was deemed inflammatory by the government and could incite detainees to violence
  • Attorneys also disguised as privileged, materials which were in fact intended as communications to or from the media

This is not to suggest that all lawyers representing detainees in Guantanamo behaved in this fashion.  In fact we can expect that most lawyers behaved professionally while zealously representing their clients.  However, the allegations of the government detailed above and the conviction of Stewart do highlight the fact that the government has concrete and legitimate interests in monitoring attorney conduct to ensure it does not go beyond the scope of representation. 

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URLs in this post:
[1] was disbarred : http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/04/24/ny_civil_rights_lawyer_is_disbarred/
[2] FDD Senior Fellow Andrew McCarthy : http://www.defenddemocracy.org/biographies/biographies_show.htm?attrib_id=9716
[3] state: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/in_the_media/in_the_media_show.htm?doc_id=261382
[4] argues : http://www.scotusblog.com/movabletype/archives/Bismullah-Parhat_gov.pdf